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American Exceptionalism Is Rooted In Appreciative Power?

Posted By William E Smith On Feb 19, 2016

American Exceptionalism Is Rooted In Appreciative Power?

Fareed Zakaria makes a great point in his last GPS program on CNN. 

“American exceptionalism is not based on race, ethnicity or religion but on ideas and crucially that those ideas were open to all.  This openness to ideas, cultures and religions created a new person, the American… No other country from its outset believed in the idea of openness and the mixture of people as central to its founding”.      

In politics openness, liberalism and diversity are most associated with the Democratic party while closedness, conservatism and conformity with the Republican party. In these posts I have associated openness and diversity with appreciative power and closedness and conformity with control power. Politics itself is the epitome of influence power. It provides the essential function of mediating the flow, (in-fluence) between the open appreciative field and the conservative control field in the interests of the whole community.  

Wouldn’t it be great if our politicians in managing our affairs in Congress and the Senate actually did that? Wouldn’t it be great if the current stable of presidential candidates promised us to do that? They would actually take into account their own, their party’s’ and their country’s interest equally.

In looking to the past and honoring our Constitution we would be conservative but in honoring the openness of its message we would be equally liberal. Now that sounds like a good basis for real politics.

Why is that so difficult?

Violence: Obama, A Mother And Us

Posted By William E Smith On Jan 1, 2016

Violence: Obama, A Mother And Us

Obama is about to take executive action on the issue of gun violence, a topic that has pained him his entire presidency. He is frustrated because this action falls far short of what he knows we should do. Yet he can find hope in the wisdom of ordinary people who, in times of crisis, show that we all really do know what needs to be done and will find the means to do it.

The CNN video extract tells the story of a mother, Nicole Hockley, who lost her son in the Sandy Hook massacre. She illustrates how we don't have to wait for legislative policy or stepped-up securityto affect gun-violence.. We can do it now through personal responsibility and action.

She says that she was perfectly happy to be a mom but the crisis gave her a new and larger purpose:

  1. to "provide a legacy for Dylan and honor his life"
  2. to "protect the lives of those who survived," including her oldest son Jake
  3. to "give them a positive future to look forward to."

It is not surprising that she and the many schools inspired by her organization, Sandy Hook Promise, find new purpose and rely heavily on appreciative means to spread their programs. They teach children to appreciate "the signs that someone is at risk for any kind of crisis." The "Say Something Program" is a virtual exercise in the use of appreciative power.

Say something to me. I promise I won't judge.
Say something to me. I promise to understand.
Say something to me. If I can't help I promise to find someone who can.

Taking part in the program, one young woman explains that "seeing the video and being in the video and especially seeing the statistics," she now appreciates "how many people can cause school violence based on your home life, your personal life." Another demonstrates the exercise of appreciative power:

It's simple things like smiling in the hallways instead of going through with a stony face...
talking with people and sitting with them if they are not with anyone else, actively making fiends. It's just your presence--just ask how are you today.

Nicole references the "butterfly effect" of chaos theory in her son's flapping arms. "The 26 "flappers who died," she says "can do more than create a hurricane. They can change a country."

Her final implication for us: We are all flappers and each of us is capable of contributing to the kind of change in mindset required to tackle these seemingly unsolvable problems.

Not a bad beginning as we are making our own New Year's Resolutions. We know that they won't be realized unless we appreciate the larger context of purpose in which they are made--unless we involve others to add value to the results and unless we bring more influence to bear on their achievement.

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